How to write a great welcome email

October 15, 2019

A great employee onboarding experience begins with a welcome or congratulations email. The new hire has signed their offer letter and the welcome email transitions both you and the new team member from a hiring mentality to onboarding. 

And a great welcome email will get the new hire excited, while laying the groundwork for their orientation.

Our welcome email

To start, let's first take a look at the email we send out here at Sora:

Welcome to the team!

Hey {{ Preferred first name }}!

It’s official! Welcome to the Sora team!

As we discussed, your first day will be {{ Start date }}. But we’re already at work getting things ready for you.

Your Sora email account should be coming your way soon. When that’s all set up, we’ll give your personal email a break and start sending anything you’ll need to be prepped for your first day to your new work email.

Expect a couple of emails from finance to get things set up for payroll and benefits. IT will send over a short survey to make sure we have everything you’ll need for your desk. And I’ll send over a short survey with some fun questions that we’ll use to introduce you to the rest of the Sora team.

Besides that, just enjoy any time you have off.

Before your first day, I’ll send over another email with some of the logistics for getting into the office, but definitely feel free to reach out to me about any questions that might come up before then.

So excited to have you on the team!

- Justin

I’m trying to be simple, straight-forward, and above all else, personal.

Let's talk a bit about what I thought as I wrote it and some tips for writing your own.

Writing your email

Write to someone

A problem with template emails is that we're not writing them for anyone in particular. And that makes us write stilted, formal emails and say things that we'd never say to another person.

This might seem obvious, but anytime you're writing for a person, write for a person. Think of someone you know. Maybe not especially well. Not your best friend, but an acquaintance, someone you're comfortable with. What would you say to welcome them to the company?

Another method for writing more personable emails is to grab a pen and paper and walk away from your computer. Years of writing formal reports for school and work has trained us all to write with a certain tone when we're looking at a word processor. Get around that, and all of the writing and rewriting, by putting down your first draft on a piece of paper.

Celebrate it

Remember everything that went into making this happen. Both for the company and the new hire.

Your company decided to open up the position, a hiring manager crafted the listing, recruiters talked with countless candidates, your hiring panel interviewed the best candidates, they filled out rubrics and had discussions, and then they made an offer.

The new hire decided to make a huge change in their life. Think of how many listings they looked at, applications they filled out, emails they sent. Coming in and interviewing with your team, reviewing and signing the offer letter.

Look at all of that. This is a big deal. Be excited.

Layout next steps

Your welcome letter is typically the first step in your onboarding workflow. Make sure you use it as such. Your new hire is excited and probably has a few questions. Try to get out ahead of answering them.

At the same time, show restraint. You don't want the first thing they read after they sign their offer letter to be a 17-point checklist of the forms they have to fill out. Layout the next couple of steps, not the entire months-long onboarding process.

Editing your email

Check readability and grammar

Just about everything I write goes through two tools after I’ve finished drafting it (usually in Google Docs).

The first is the Hemingway editor, which does all sorts of syntax highlighting. Mostly I use it to identify complex language and hard to read sentences. It’ll also give you a readability score. This is a personal email not a book report, so I’m typically shooting to keep it around a 4th-grade level.

The second is Grammarly. My grammar is atrocious. It's just not what I see when I look at text. But grammatical mistakes are, at the very least, distracting. A quick copy & paste into Grammarly usually saves me from a couple of careless errors.

Read it aloud

Once you've got a draft written, actually read it aloud. Actually say the words you wrote. If it sounds weird coming out of your mouth, it'll probably sound weird in the reader's head.

Look at it with fresh eyes

You know what you wanted to get across when you wrote it, and that's going to color how you read it. If you can, send the finished draft to a coworker and have them give it a quick read. If not, put it aside for a few days so you can read it with fresh eyes and tweak as necessary.

Revisit it

It's easy to complete a piece of your onboarding communication, put it into the process, and then never return to it. Especially when it's an email that is set automatically. So make it a point to revisit your welcome email every so often. Give it a read and punch it up.

Like the rest of the onboarding process, it should be about continuously improving.

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